Obama faces a new Republican Trump card

Donald Trump, the property developer and reality TV powerhouse who insists he may run for the Republican nomination for the White House next year, is on a roll. Polls now put him in second place in the race to secure the Republican nomination and not even his local paper, which yesterday Photoshopped him to look like a dozy clown, can slow his momentum.

Dismissing "the Donald" as a possible contender has become more difficult even if he seems preoccupied almost exclusively by the so-called "birther" conspiracy that says President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii, as he claims. A recent Wall Street Journal poll of possible Republican runners showed him tied in second place with Mike Huckabee and only four points behind Mitt Romney.

Last night Mr Romney formally signalled his intention to run by forming an exploratory committee, a body to raise campaign funds. He is the second Republican to do so, following former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

But the White House is now training its guns on Trump. "I saw Donald Trump kind of rising in the polls. Given the spectacle of the last couple of weeks, I hope he keeps on rising," David Plouffe, Mr Obama's senior political adviser, sniped. "There's zero chance that Donald Trump would ever be hired by the American people to do this job."

The tycoon has also got the attention of The New York Times, which saw fit to publish a letter in which he attacks its star columnist, Gail Collins, for lambasting him over the birth certificate issue. "I have great respect for Ms Collins in that she has survived so long with so little talent," he hisses. "Her storytelling ability and word usage (coming from me, who has written many bestsellers), is not at a very high level. More importantly, her facts are wrong."

In recent interviews, Mr Trump has suggested that Mr Obama may have pulled of the "greatest scam" in US history by pretending to be an American when he is not. Speaking on CNN at the weekend, Mr Trump claimed that Mr Obama's grandparents had placed an advert in a Hawaii newspaper saying that he had been born in the US "for hospitalisation, for welfare, for this, for that, for all of the other assets you get from being a US citizen".

The producer and puppet master of contestants on his Apprentice programmes also points to a tape recording in which Mr Obama's grandmother says she witnessed his birth in Kenya. However, researchers say she misunderstood the question and quickly corrects her mistake. He also makes much of the fact that, while Mr Obama has a so-called "certificate of live birth" that identifies the Hawaii hospital in which he was born, he has never produced a more formal birth certificate. That families would have the former and not the latter in Hawaii is far from unusual, however.

Among those taking issue with Mr Trump is factcheck.org. "If Donald Trump worked for us, we'd have to say: 'Donald, you're fired – for incompetence.' When it comes to getting facts straight, he fouls up again and again. As a rookie reporter, he wouldn't make it."

That Mr Trump is being taken seriously at all might say less about him and more about the field of possible challengers to Mr Obama, which has been very slow to form and is not firing grassroots enthusiasm.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Recruitment Genius: Salesforce Developer

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued business growt...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss